Free For All: Stock Photos, Social Media Profiles, and Calendar Templates


Explosions, Fire, and Fireworks Stock Photography
Let’s poke a little fun at the preposterous notion that the world will end on December 21st because a 5,000-year-old calendar allegedly expires on that date. How do we poke fun on Free for All? By giving away free stock photography, of course! Check out these 55 explosive year-starting and world-ending royalty free stock images I collected on Stock.XChang.
Remember: The images are free, but before you can download them you’ll need to register a free account with Stock.XChang.

2012 Social Media Profiles
In the year 2012 (cue Zagar & Evans) a social media presence for creative professionals is essential. The biggest social media are, of course, Facebook and Twitter. Both services have recently altered how they present users’ profiles (yes, again). If one of your New Year’s resolutions isn’t to put your best Facebook and Twitter profile foot forward, it needs to be. And I’ve got some handy tools to help you do just that.
First is a pair of free Photoshop PSD templates from Jon Darke of Every Interaction for Twitter profiles. These excellent templates are 100% pixel-accurate to Twitter’s new profile layout and include easily customized vector objects and components arranged in logical groups and layers. There are even two different versions: one for personal profiles and another for Twitter’s new “enhanced” profiles for brands and advertisers. The templates are compatible with Photoshop CS4 and later.

Facebook’s new user profile page is the much anticipated Timeline layout that presents a user’s life in a vertical timeline, with content flowing in reverse chronological order, most recent down to birth. The timeline is capped by a massive 850×314 pixel “cover photo” of your choosing. For the average Jane’s profile, the cover photo is often a family portrait or a shot taken during a vacation. For creative professionals out to promote themselves, their services, or their brands, however, the cover photo represents a huge branding opportunity. Here are a few tools to help you make the most of the potential of the timeline cover photo.
Naturally, you can start with DIY templates for Photoshop and Fireworks. Nico at offers a simple PSD template of the Facebook timeline. The template includes several layers, making it easy to target the individual components for customization. A similar — but more spartan — Photoshop PSD template comes from Neal Campbell. Neal’s template is also available in PNG format for Fireworks from the same link. If you’re not happy with either of those, there’s a third option from Designrs Hub, also a PSD. All three PSDs are compatible with Photoshop CS3 and later.

If you’d rather not start from a template in Photoshop — a wise choice if you want to include an array of images from your portfolio or an existing Facebook gallery — several free online services can help you build a cover photo in your browser. Two that I like are Timeline Covers and CoverCanvas, both of which offer the following comparable features:
• numerous templates and layouts
• the ability to use one photo or combine many into a single cover image
• the ability to add text to your cover photo
• the option to preview what the image might look like on a dummy timeline
The results I’ve seen from CoverCanvas seem a little more polished, a little more professional than those from Timeline Covers. Timeline Covers, however, is an actual Facebook app, which means it gives you the ability to more easily and more directly access your existing Facebook imagery as well more quickly activate and tweak new designs.

Another couple of semi-automatic cover image design services are Timeline Cover Banner and Pic Scatter. They have fewer features than the aforementioned services, but that might be exactly what you need because they do what they do do (do?) well. Note that Pic Scatter adds the “made with” credit prominently unless you upgrade to their premium service, and Timeline Cover Banner adds a subtle watermark to identify its involvement.

2012 Calendar Templates
Still haven’t made your publication’s 2012 events calendar? Or maybe you want to design some nicely branded calendars for promotional giveaways and you’ve been running late. Fear not, Free for All has you covered — six ways from Sunday.
First, there are the obligatory Microsoft Word and Excel calendar templates for designers and non-designers alike.

Then, for hobbyists, there are 10 templates for Photoshop Elements. Courtesy of Photoshop Elements User Magazine, these templates include standard calendar templates, a seasonal triplet style template, and three styles of the compact CD jewel-case-style desktop calendar.

Moving into the professional arena, there are even more templates and modules available, starting with a pair for Lightroom 3. The first is a print module from Lightroom expert Jerry Courvoisier. You’ll find the module download and concise instructions — as well as a how-to video — on Jerry’s site. Photographer Ed Weaver offers his own take on calendar print templates for Lightroom — again, complete with an instructional video by Matt Kloskowski. Both Jerry’s and Ed’s offerings are excellent templates for promotional or commercial photo-calendars.

For total control over the look and style of a 2012 calendar you’ll need to turn to a page-layout program. There are plenty of free InDesign calendar resources. Let’s start with Nikolay Dimitrov’s, which is a Monday — Sunday European style template. Nikolay’s template is available as an INX file, which can be opened by InDesign CS3 and all later versions.

Next we have an InDesign CS5 and later template from Tim Ngwena. Tim’s template is clean, modern, and ready for customization. Please note that Tim asks you to “pay with a tweet” to obtain his template; in other words, it’s free, but you must send a Twitter status update linking to it or announcing that you’re downloading it. The Adobe Exchange offers another (and tweet-free) INX-format (CS3 and later compatibility) template from user “Graphmaster” (aka Juliana Schaffer Halvorson). This template presents a more common calendar style and includes styles and swatches for easy customization. Moreover, this calendar template has been improved, refined, and honed year after year by user feedback.

Last, there’s the venerable Adobe InDesign Calendar Wizard, a Javascript extension that builds a calendar for you based on copious options in the wizard’s dialog box. There are a bevy of formatting and layout options: Calendar Wizard lets you create one-page calendars; 12-month calendars on single or multiple pages; calendars with pictures in cells; previous and next month mini-calendars in unused cells; and calendars with holidays and/or moon phases pre-populated.

But what about the world ending on December 21? You can always leave the last 10 days blank.
Please note: Free for All will often link to resources hosted on external Web sites outside of the control of At any time those Web sites may close down, change their site or permalink structures, remove content, or take other actions that may render one or more of the above links invalid. As such neither Pariah S. Burke nor can guarantee the availability of the third-party resources linked to in Free for All.

Pariah S. Burke is the author of many books and articles that empower, inform, and connect creative professionals.
  • Anonymous says:

    Nice You can Also Facebook covers online. I found some really cool Fb Cover Photos right here! –

    check them out

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